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Letter to the Speaker Urging Consideration of the D.C. Home Rule Bill by the House of Representatives.

August 04, 1965

[Released August 4, 1965. Dated August 3, 1965] Dear Mr. Speaker:

On February 2, 1965, I transmitted to the Congress a home rule bill for the District of Columbia, with a special message urging its prompt and favorable consideration. The Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, without a dissenting vote, recommended favorably, and on July 22 the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 63 to 29. A majority of the Senators on both sides of the aisle voted for its passage.

I cannot emphasize too strongly my conviction that this action by the Senate must not meet the fate of home rule bills passed by the Senate in previous Congresses. The House, too, must be given the opportunity, and promptly, to restore the basic rights of democracy at the very heart of the greatest constitutional system in the world.

For much too long this nation has tolerated in the District of Columbia conditions that our ancestors fought a revolution to eliminate. For much too long we have imposed on many hundreds of thousands of citizens who live in the District a badge of inferiority--the stigma of unworthiness to guide their own affairs. For much too long we have denied at our nation's capital the principles of representative government for which we stand throughout the world. The Congress has been aroused to redress denials of the right to vote in every part of this country--except the District. We affront its citizens and leave a significant part of our work unfinished by this unnecessary and invidious discrimination.

All of us cherish the heritage of our great charters of liberty. Yet in the District, with a population larger than that of eleven of our States, the governed have no voice and taxation is without representation. This is no less than a national disgrace.

The bill passed by the Senate will redeem our long neglect. It is not a partisan measure, nor should it be. Democrats and Republicans alike honor traditions of democracy and self-government. I feel confident that Members of the House, given the opportunity, will join with Members of the Senate to afford their fellow-citizens the flail blessings of democracy and liberty. I know that you will do everything in your power to assure the Members that opportunity.



[Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.]

Note: On September 29, 1965, the House of Representatives passed a bill providing for a charter commission to draft a plan for home rule for the District of Columbia. This differed from the Senate bill which provided for a mayor and dry council. No further action was taken at the first session of the 89th Congress.

See also Items 39, 481, 486.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Speaker Urging Consideration of the D.C. Home Rule Bill by the House of Representatives. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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